WASHINGTON — Once known as a moderating influence in the Kremlin, former Russian president and current Kremlin top security adviser Dmitry Medvedev has recently emerged as an aggressive presence, using long, scathing posts to justify the attack on the social media network Telegram. Ukraine, revise 20th century history and threaten the West with nuclear war.
In a post in late July, Medvedev described Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky under the influence of “psychotropic substances”. in another, he said American democracy was little more than the totalitarian dystopia described in George Orwell’s famous novel “Animal Farm”.
“If anyone does not agree, he will be deprived of rations, crushed or sent to the slaughterhouse,” Medvedev wrote. In the same post, he accused Americans (and their British “underdogs”) of associating their exceptionalism with “Nazi glee”.
What does it all amount to? Russia scholar and podcaster Mark Galeotti “Hysterical hawkishness” is meant to elevate Medvedev’s profile siloviki Around President Vladimir Putin (styled, “tough guys”).
“I think he feels like he has to overcompensate and feel more perverted than they are,” Galeotti told Yahoo News. “And, humans being human and thus prone to self-justification, he might be believing himself.”
At the very least, Medvedev is aware that his new persona is inconsistent—a fact that doesn’t bother him. “People often ask me why my Telegram posts are so harsh,” He wrote in June, in a seeming reply to his critics. “The answer is that I hate them. They are scoundrels and scoundrels.”
In a recent post on VKontakte, another social media network popular among Russians, Medvedev The Kremlin suggested it had designs on Georgia and Kazakhstan, both former Soviet republics such as Ukraine. “All the nations that once lived in the great and mighty Soviet Union will once again live together in friendship and understanding,” Medvedev wrote, adding that “the mistake of the early 1990s” — that is, the disintegration of the USSR — “will be corrected.”
The post with Medvedev’s claim was quickly deleted That it was hackedBut the incident only added to the flurry of absurd historical claims and over-the-top threats that have confounded observers who remember the once amiable Medvedev as a more accessible pro-West than Putin, who served as both his predecessor and successor. successor in the Kremlin.
Lately, Medvedev seems intent on emulating Putin’s belligerence — perhaps hoping to eventually replace him. The feat has surprised many in the West, given how unlikely the effort is to succeed — and how much global prestige it has cost Medvedev, who once connived with Western elites in Davos.
“He’s opportunistically trying to rebrand himself. And what he’s actually done is become a kind of vanguard for some extremist views and narratives in the Kremlin, bringing them into the mainstream,” Russia expert Samuel Ramani told Yahoo News.
According to Nina Khrushcheva, an international affairs expert at the New School, Medvedev is not influential or savvy enough to outwit Kremlin rivals for power, such as security chiefs Nikolai Patrushev Or Sergey, trust me. But even if he will never rule Russia again, Medvedev’s display of zeal for the Ukraine war may be necessary to prevent him from becoming irrelevant, an unthinkable proposition for a man whose life is so closely tied to Putin’s national project. “He’s probably saying all this to assure that he won’t be fired for treason,” she wrote in an email to Yahoo News.
Regardless, Medvedev is making his point, in what has become a troubling exercise in geopolitical rebranding.
“By the standards of the Putin regime, this man is clearly intact,” said European diplomat Carl Bildt. wrote on Twitter After Medvedev warned of possible nuclear war if the International Criminal Court took action against Russia for alleged battlefield atrocities.
“The Fall and Fall of Dmitry Medvedev,” Recent headlines in foreign policy have run the gamut, reflecting the deep disillusionment of a man once invested in Western hopes for reform — a hope that, today, is little more than fantasy. Thirteen years ago, the same outlet described it “Russia’s Geek-in-Chief.”
A lawyer by training, Medvedev is similar to Putin, a native of St. Petersburg. The two met in 1990, when Medvedev was working as an adviser to Putin, who had risen to positions of Russian power. Medvedev rose alongside him to serve as Russia’s president between 2008 and 2012, an interval that allowed Putin to return as Russia’s leader after a constitutionally mandated hiatus. (In 2020, Putin The Russian constitution changed (to allow oneself to effectively serve eternally.)
While Russia’s leader, Medvedev never became the reformer some in the West had hoped for, though He cut ties with Putin On supporting Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. And in a foreshadowing of his Telegram habits, Medvedev was criticized in 2011. Retweeting a message A political rival is likened to “putting a fool in the mouth of a sheep”. The Kremlin blamed a low-level tech support employee for the retweet, and the obscene post was deleted amid controversy.
The target of that message was Alexander Navalny, who later emerged as a leading critic of what Russia had become under Putin. In 2017, Navalny was released A 40-minute documentary Medvedev was accused of corruption on an astonishing scale. Although corruption was hardly uncommon among the country’s political and business leaders, Medvedev was the country’s prime minister, who worked hard – however unsuccessfully – to present a friendly image to the West.
“He owns huge plots of land in the most elite areas; He manages yachts, apartments in old castles, agricultural complexes and wineries in Russia and abroad. Navalny wrote in an accompanying report. “All these properties were bought with bribes from the aristocracy and loans from state banks.”
In early 2020, Medvedev resigned as Prime Minister of Russia. The decline was widely seen as a loss of confidence for Putin. He was appointed to the Security Council a year after Russia decided to invade Ukraine.
Here Medvedev saw an opportunity. As Russia became increasingly isolated, he turned to Telegram to invade Ukraine – and much else.
“The West’s hysterical Russophobia will apparently never bottom out,” he wrote in his first message posted on March 17 as an initial offensive against Russia. Land to stop And the generals and janissaries around Putin were looking for someone to blame. If nothing else, Medvedev had the answer and was willing to share it.
Four days later, one post had been viewed nearly 938,000 times, Medvedev called Poland’s leaders “political idiots”. For siding with the West against Ukraine. The post raised concerns about a wider conflict in Eastern Europe as Poland became a hub for refugees fleeing Ukraine and Western arms flowing across the front lines. Any attack on Poland, a NATO member, would lead to continent-wide war, some feared from the start. “We should take this seriously,” Ukraine expert Alina Polikova, Head of the Center for European Policy AnalysisTold about Medvedev’s disturbing message.
In April, he mockingly contrasted Western nations’ green energy pledges with concerns over sanctions on Russian gas and oil: “I think the day is not far off when a smiling Greta Thunberg will appear in Europe in American gas station ads. ,” Medvedev wrote, adding a smiley face emoji for emphasis.
Critics have Long Accused Medvedev was accused of heavy drinking and other allegations about his personal life. Nevertheless, he appears determined to rehabilitate his image with Putin. Whether he can do so, and emerge once again in the Kremlin, is another matter.
“I don’t think Medvedev seriously imagines that he has another shot at the presidency,” says Galeotti, whose “In the Shadow of Moscow” Podcast Often explores Kremlin machinations. “I think he’s just trying to cling to some relevance.”
As any social media user knows, online provocation is a way to get attention — and Medvedev certainly seems to be an expert at it.
In a June post, he referred to Ukraine’s demands Lend-Lease Energy Program It will last until autumn 2023 to help cushion the impact of sanctions on Russian oil and gas. “But who said that Ukraine will be on the world map in two years,” he thought?
The message received 2.9 million views.